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Old 01-05-2009, 09:53 PM   #1
Dec 2008
Posts: 223

I just started to homebrew and have so far been constrained to readymade kits. Everything you need is basically included you follow directions and boil. Eventually I see myself progressing to designing my own beers (using extracts still) and then ultimately going all grain.

Im going to do a few more kits to get used to brewing but my question is this. When I actually break away from using pre-made kits and start picking my own extracts, specialty grains, yeasts, and hops how do I go about it. I mean theres so many different types of each of these how do you know which to use in a certain situation?

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Old 01-05-2009, 10:54 PM   #2
Dec 2008
Melbourne Australia
Posts: 124
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Suggest you start with Dry hopping then wet hopping whilst adding DME instead of dextrose, each new brew add an extra step...

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Old 01-05-2009, 11:40 PM   #3
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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I like to read books that talk about recipe designing. "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels is a good one. For extract brewing, I really like "Brewing Classic Styles" by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. Another helpful thing is to look at the BJCP guidelines: BJCP Style Guidelines
That will help you determine what a "hoppy" beer tastes like, and still be in style guidelines.

I also use Beersmith, the software program. It's free to try, and it has a list of ingredients that has a short description of each. It helps you think about each ingredient and what it brings to your recipe.

I suggest trying simple recipes, with only a couple of different specialty grains and hops. This keeps the beer from tasting "muddy" as well as shows you what individual ingredients do. Some grains are "malty", some are "sweet", some are "toasty", etc.

You could actually stop making kits now, and follow a simple extract recipe. Let us know if you want some help!

One other thing that really helps- taste the grains! Say you have a recipe with some crushed grains to steep. Before you mix them, taste them individually. That will give you a great idea of what they taste like and what they will bring to the beer.
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:07 AM   #4
Nov 2008
Manteno, IL
Posts: 1,126
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It's all about research, and trial and error.

HOPS-this is a decent hops chart, there are better ones out there. I took this one and a few others and compiled them into my own table.

Hop Reference Chart

Yeast-great wikibeer site. Descriptions of the yeast and possible esters

Wyeast - Home Brewing Wiki
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Secondary - Zombiedust (clone)

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Old 01-06-2009, 01:17 AM   #5
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Jun 2007
La Puente, CA, California
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Look at existing recipes for the style beer you like and let that be your guide. As Yooper said the Beersmith program is a must have for any brewer who intends on brewing their own recipes.

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
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Old 01-06-2009, 02:04 AM   #6
cuinrearview's Avatar
Feb 2008
Delton, MI
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Originally Posted by WBC View Post
Look at existing recipes for the style beer you like and let that be your guide. As Yooper said the Beersmith program is a must have for any brewer who intends on brewing their own recipes.

Better yet BREW some of the recipes on this site. No shame it making great beer with someone else's ingredients. Your specific conditions/equipment in your brewery will make the beer unique. You'll quickly learn what you like and begin to experiment from there. The most important thing to remember is that as long as you're making beer that you like, don't be afraid to keep making it with whatever process you use. After 13 batches this year, the majority of recipes my own I decided to use a BB kit as a base for a pepper beer. It ended up being something that everyone likes and a recipe that I added to the database here. You don't need to navigate the brewing labyrinth to find good beer, it's usually well within your grasp.
Looking forward to brewing some beer

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